Thousands of Croydon residents to join UK’s largest health research programme

News – 8 November 2022
Croydon is one of the first towns in national effort to recruit 5 million people.

Our Future Health is an ambitious collaboration between the public sector, life sciences companies and leading UK health charities including: Action Against Age-related Macular DegenerationAlzheimer’s SocietyAsthma + Lung UKBlood Cancer UKBreast Cancer NowBritish Heart FoundationCancer Research UKDiabetes UKKidney Research UKPancreatic Cancer UKParkinson’s UKProstate Cancer UKRoyal Osteoporosis Society and Stroke Association

The programme’s goal is to recruit 5 million volunteers over 18 years old across the country, collect information from them on their health and lifestyle, and create one of the most detailed pictures we’ve ever had of people’s health. Researchers will be able to use this information to discover more effective ways to prevent, detect and treat diseases.  

Croydon is one of the first towns in the country where people will be able to take part in Our Future Health. From next week (21 November), 16,000 people will be able to attend appointments over the next 6 months in Croydon’s Centrale Shopping Centre, (21 North End, CR0 1TY). 

At their appointment, volunteers will have a blood sample taken, plus some physical measurements. They will also be offered information about their own health, including their blood pressure and cholesterol levels. In the future people who join the programme will also be given the option to receive feedback about their risk of certain diseases. 

Across London, volunteers will also be able to attend appointments at a clinic in Stratford as well as Boots stores across the Capital — Kensington High Street, White City, Strand and Piccadilly Circus.  

Working in collaboration with NHS DigiTrials, letters are being sent this week to around 86 thousand people over 18 living in Croydon and Stratford giving them the option to take part. Volunteers will give their consent to join the research programme and agree to provide secure access to their health records through a secure system, complete a questionnaire and book an appointment. 

While the Greater London is one of the first regions to take part, there are plans to roll out to other regions in due course. People across the UK can sign up for the programme now and book an appointment when more locations are added in the coming months. 

Dr Roshan Siva, Associate Medical Director for Research and Development at Croydon Health Services NHS Trust said: 

 “I’m delighted that Croydon will be one of the first places to roll out the Our Future Health programme. By working with our local communities and gaining information on our population, we can use important health data to ensure the right health screening checks are offered to the right people, at the right time. Ultimately, this will help clinicians to detect diseases as early as possible, leading to earlier treatment and better clinical outcomes. It will help us reduce the demand on healthcare. 

“In Croydon, some of our population has good engagement with health services; local people understand the lifestyle measures needed to cut the risk of disease, as well as the importance of vaccinations. While they may be more likely to engage with this sort of programme, we also need to engage the rest of the very diverse Croydon population, who arguably stand to benefit the most from such an initiative. I would encourage as many of you as possible to volunteer for this exciting programme.” 

Seren Hughes, age 27, has already joined Our Future Health, she said: 
“I signed up to Our Future Health because I understand the importance of early prevention of disease. 

“I was diagnosed with Stage 1 ovarian cancer when I was 19 years old. It was such a shock – I was in the first year of university at the time. In a way I was lucky: my doctors caught the cancer really early. If it had been left longer, the outcome could have been quite different. Due to what I’ve experienced with my own health, I want to be part of research, so that other people can benefit from new discoveries in healthcare. 

“I found joining the programme to be great. By filling in the survey, you get a chance to reflect on your own health and wellbeing. My blood appointment was right around the corner, five minutes away from my home in Manchester. It was very easy – the two staff members who ran it were lovely.” 

Dr Raghib Ali OBE, Chief Medical Officer of Our Future Health, said: 
“Today, millions of people spend many years of their life in poor health and too often we are only able treat diseases when our patients start showing symptoms. Volunteering to join Our Future Health is an opportunity to change that. With the help of up to five million people, we’ll be able to dramatically improve our understanding of how to detect and prevent diseases so in the future everyone can live in good health for longer.” 

Interviews with spokespeople and case studies available on request. 

Notes to editors: 

Appointments in Croydon will take place at Unit 72, Central Shopping Centre, 21 North end, Croydon, CR0 1TY 

The delivery of Our Future Health appointments at this locations will be supported by Acacium Group and Pharmacy2U. They will provide the workforce and facilities needed to create capacity for appointments for blood sample collection and physical measurements. They will not have access to the participant’s healthcare records or the main Our Future Health database which holds all participant data. 

Opt-out from receiving an invitation – People who have previously opted out of sharing health data for planning and research purposes, by submitting a National Data Opt-out, will not receive an invitation letter to join the programme via NHS Digital (who host the NHS DigiTrials service). People who do not want to receive an invitation letter from NHS Digital can opt out by completing the form on the NHS DigiTrials webpage

About Our Future Health 
Our Future Health is a collaboration between the public, private and charity sectors. It aims to be the UK’s largest health research programme, bringing people together to develop new ways to prevent, detect and treat disease. 

Our Future Health is committed to the highest standards, policies and processes that protect participants’ confidentiality, whilst maximising the opportunity to help researchers to tackle serious diseases. Participants’ data will be de-identified and held securely in trusted research environments that meet strict security criteria. There will be a robust and transparent access process to ensure appropriate research access to Our Future Health data and samples for registered researchers. All researchers will be held to the same standards. 

Our Future Health is a member of the UK Health Data Research Alliance, the independent alliance of leading healthcare and research organisations establishing best practice for the ethical use of UK health data for research at scale. 
Our Future Health is a company limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales (number 12212468) and a charity registered with the Charity Commission for England and Wales (charity number 1189681) and OSCR, Scottish Charity Regulator (charity number SC050917).  

About NHS DigiTrials 
NHS DigiTrials, hosted by NHS Digital, offers data services to support clinical trials. We help reduce the time, effort and cost of developing new drugs, treatments and services, bringing benefits to patients, the public and the NHS.